Another milestone in the evolution of AeroKnow Museum was passed October 6 when a visitor took out his cell phone and took pictures of a 1949 Hawk Model Company solid balsa kit of the Republic F-84 Thunderjet. It was the first time a visitor has taken pictures here.
The encounter had begun with no great expectations. I was concentrating on transcribing serial numbers, assignments and sometimes dispositions from a 1998 computer printout of this kind of information given to AeroKnow by David R. McLaren. David is author of several outstanding books about US aircraft and probably the best book every published about the 56th Fighter Group. AeroKnow has contributed in a small way to some of his books. From the moment I brought the printout of this information, involving almost every F-86 that was built in the USA, I knew I wanted to transcribe the information therein — of interest primarily to SERIOUS aviation historians — into an easier-t0-use format, and to give all the credit to the man who produced the original. Often, in recent weeks, visitors have come quietly into the wide open door and have been looking at the tech manuals or models when I break concentration from the computer to sip some coffee and find them engaged in perhaps the 1914 issue of Aerial Age Weekly I display on the top of the display counter.
“Don’t get up, I’m just looking,” he said when I finally noticed him and said “Welcome to the club house.” And for the next few minutes, he looked at the memorabilia in the display window that is also visible in the hallway to Hangar 1. “I used to fly for Ozark before I went to Northwest,” he said. I explained that the travel agency model displayed in the window was given to me by friends who owned a travel agency once operating across the perimeter road off the airport entrance. I had taken photographs during a few hot air balloon flights (they also flew a hot air balloon), and when they departed Springfield years ago to move to Albuquerque, New Mexico to concentrate on ballooning, they gave me the large display model.
He mentioned he flew for a company these days. “Is that your Aerostar outside?” I asked. He confirmed it is. When I arrive at the airport, I always pay attention to what’s on the tarmac on the other side of the hurricane fence topped with barb-wire because if the flight crew come visiting, chances are I can match them to the Lear 35, or Sabreliner or Cessna 172 outside. The King Air pilot is dressed differently from the Piper Cherokee CFI and from what I see of them and hear in distant conversation, if they DO come into the office, I usually have a fair idea of who they are before they cross the threshold. The gentleman said he’s the pilot, not the owner, and loves the airplane. I told him I had written a pilot report about a friend’s Aerostar 600 years ago, published in In Flight USA magazine, even though I am not a licensed pilot. I explained friend Joe Angermeier had flown left seat during a 45 flight around central Illinois as he demonstrated the airplane, and I simply wrote the article from the interview before during and after. I also asked if I could take some pictures of the visitor’s Aerostar.
“Sure,” he said. “Go on out and take your pictures. I have to file a flight plan. When I explained that model kits in the museum date back to the 30s and pulled out the Hawk F-84 kit, he became more interested in staying awhile and as we examined the kit, he started arranging the parts in the box and took out his cell phone; took about four pictures. Then he headed out the door to the nearby weather room, taking a “Thanks For Visiting AeroKnow Museum” brochure and depositing a $10 bill into the donation jar. THANK YOU SIR! I took my camera off the charger and headed for the tarmac: on the other side of the fence.
I just discovered the pictures I took are still in the camera which is at the Museum. If I had a wi-fi 21st century computer out there, I’d have written this post out there and uploaded the pictures there. We can avoid this awkward moment if good people will support AeroKnow Museum so that we can purchase that kind of computer.
So I don’t totally disappoint, here are some pictures of a Falcon 10 I photographed a few weeks ago, a beautiful machine operated by a charter company in Bloomington, Illinois.
Thanks to Chris the pilot for showing me the pretty bird.
I’ll post the Aerostar pictures in a few days.
A trivia question: Another company made a plane they called the Aerostar. It was not a twin. Who was that company?
CAVU and happy landings!